The Creation of My Game: Bandwidth Bandits

Friday 3rd of May 2019.

We returned to our first class after 2 weeks break due to the non-teaching week and the mid-session break. Our tutor opened the class with some light conversation. Once the majority of  the class had arrived, he commenced the week 8 seminar on Game Design Experience: Individual Game Project. A dry title, but necessary information.

Once the seminar was completed, our tutor gave us an exercise to get our creative juices flowing. He handed out a sheet of paper with the numbers 1-5 listed in descending order. With the sheet of paper we had to complete a simple task. Create the titles for 5 games in two minutes. I came up with names like Allegations Against an Alligator and Cloud or Chem-trail. But the one that stood out to me the most was Bandwidth Bandits.

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Once I had the title I started brainstorming story ideas in my head and penciling them down. Why would someone steal bandwidth? How would someone steal bandwidth? Where would someone steal bandwidth? In answering these questions I came up with the story of super genius who created a new  electronic storage device for the purpose of downloading and storing the entire Internet.

But to complete this task, the players must go to locations across the city to install devices known as widgets to redirect the bandwidth to their hideout. Going on with a story each player meant each player would have to travel around the city. So my next step question was – what would the board look like and how would players move around it? I don’t want a normal board that people would roll dies to move around in a circle. I took inspiration from a game that we had played earlier in the year Carcassonne. In particular, how the board is made up of smaller cards and it’s built up over time. So I came up with the idea that the board would be made up of a series of cards with city locations on them. 12 city locations plus 4 hideout card locations. The players would commence the game from the hideouts.

The locations that I came up with are:

  • University.
  • High School.
  • Private School.
  • Insuro. Corp.
  • Tele. Corp.
  • Tech Startup
  • City Square (Public Wi-Fi).
  • Stock Exchange.
  • Café.
  • Suburbs.
  • Public Library.
  • Investigation Bureau Agency.

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Coming up with movement system to navigate around the board was the next step. After getting advice from my tutor, Chris, who suggested that I draw a four by four grid on an A3 sheet of paper and using that as a board to place the location cards. That sorted the layout, but how the player moved around the board was still an issue. A suggestions was to use a pair of D4 dice to move the player pieces to locations on the world. But this system relied too much on chance to engage the player. What we ultimately came up with was the player had a set number of actions that they could perform each turn. So for each turn the player could perform the three actions, either move or play a card. Doing one of these things would take up an action.

e.g. A player could move two spots then use a card and that would add up to three actions.

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How to win

Once I had a movement system for the players, this helped define how a player would win. Originally the idea was that each location had a percentage of bandwidth that the player would be hacking into. Thereby motivating players to gather resources to infiltrate more valuable targets. To go with this, players would be given gadgets to access these locations, things like security cards or costumes, which will allow players a better chance of infiltrating and collecting the bandwidth. There were a number issues with this system. These include: how to keep track of how much bandwidth each player collect, how to allocate the risk and reward for each locations security system; and the resource management of the gadgets. However, because the both the assembly of the board and the players gadget cards are random, the game became too complicated, with too many moving part to keep track of. What ultimately came of this was a paring down of the scoring (bandwidth collection) in the cards as a resource system. The cards went from specific actions to one of three. A Widget card (to install a Widget at a location), +2 movement card (allows the player an extra movement on the board without losing an action), and a IBA tip off card (to tip off the Investigation Bureau Agent to location of the players choice)

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The Investigation Bureau Agent is a major part of the game experience that has been part of Bandwidth Bandits from the beginning in some form. In the story Super Geniuses are sneaking into secure locations and hacking into internet all across the city. So the idea is that they would be in a antagonist force correcting the wrongs committed by the Super Geniuses. The Investigation Bureau Agent. Originally the agent would be another player in an asymmetric roll where they would be investigating locations that the geniuses had been at previously. Finding a way to make the role enjoyable for everyone was difficult to pull off, due to everyone knowing where the widgets and the players are located at all times gave the agent too much power. What became of the agents roll was turned into the function of the games system. The Agent begins the game at the Investigation Bureau Agent. Once each Genius has their first turn the Agent is activated on the board and they move to their first location. The Agents moves determined by drawing cards from the Agents deck. Each card in the Agents deck corresponds to a location on the board. Once drawn the agent moves to the location on the card, once there the Agent begins their investigation. Removing any Widgets that maybe installed, if it Genius is at the same location they are sent back to their hideout and the cards are removed. This game is designed to have up to 4 players at the same time. The Agent as an extra degree of strategy to how the player moves, plays cards and please is the Widgets.

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